This is shaping up to be one of the most spectacular divorce settlements in history. It is therefore not surprising that social networks began to speculate as soon as the news of the separation of Bill and Melinda Gates was announced, on how they will divide their gigantic fortune. And on the consequences that their separation may have on the world of philanthropy.
Bill Gates, who co-founded Microsoft, is according to Forbes, the fourth richest man in the world with $ 130.5 billion. He is notably the largest landowner of farmland in the United States. But the Gates are best known as the world’s most famous philanthropists. The foundation in their name of $ 50 billion that they co-chair spends $ 5 billion a year on education, health, vaccines … In their press release, the Gates explained that they “would continue to work together to the foundation. ” But Melinda Gates also created in 2015 her own company – Pivotal Ventures -, which specializes in the causes of women and the family.
Jeff Bezos’ ex-wife wants to empty his account
Melinda Gates at 56 joined a very select club. That of divorced or widowed billionaire women who inherited a huge fortune from their husband, the boss of a tech giant. If the Gates agree to divide the fortunes equally, Melinda is expected to recoup some 65 billion, which is more than the 58.5 billion MacKenzie Scott, Jeff Bezos’ ex-wife, according to Forbes. But still quite far behind the 74 billion Frenchwoman Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, the richest woman in the world.
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So far in tech, it was Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott who held the record for the biggest divorce deal. In 2019, they separated after 25 years of marriage. MacKenzie Scott got a quarter of her husband’s shares in Amazon, which now gives her 4% of the group’s shares, valued at the time at $ 36 billion. Considering Amazon’s huge stock market surge, she is now the head of a jackpot of nearly $ 58 billion, making her the third richest woman in the world. Jeff Bezos kept his shares in his space company Blue Origin and the daily on Washington Post. MacKenzie Scott, who writes novels and has just remarried a chemistry teacher from her children’s high school, has pledged to donate the majority of her fortune to charity. “I’m not going to wait. I will continue until the safe is empty,” she explained. Which is no small feat when the Amazon title continues to soar.
She gave nearly 6 billion in 2020 to 500 organizations including black universities, food banks … She asked her advisers to speed up donations because “this pandemic has demolished the lives of Americans who were already struggling to make ends meet “.
Google co-founder Anne Wojcicki created a thriving company
Other tech celebrity divorces include the 2015 divorces of Google co-founder Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki after eight years of marriage. Of which we do not know much because the divorce settlement remained secret. The couple continue to co-manage a foundation that has donated to Parkinson’s disease research. But Anne Wojcicki, a rarity among the women of tech titans, has herself created a very successful company, 23andMe, specializing in medical DNA and genealogy tests.
We know more about the activities of Laurene Powell Jobs. On the death of Steve Jobs, the boss of Apple in 2011, she inherited a fortune in Apple and Disney shares valued at 20 billion today, according to Forbes. She founded Emerson Collective, a company that covers both its philanthropy activities focused on education, immigration, health, social justice … but also owns the magazine The Atlantic, has shares in several sports teams, a documentary studio … Apart from a huge yacht called Venus and an art collection, Laurene Powell Jobs apparently has a passion for beehives and organizes for the common people, every year for Halloween, a pharaonic celebration in front of one of its residences near San Francisco that attracts thousands of candy lovers. She is finally politically involved. She has donated two million dollars to Hillary Clinton in 2016, funded the campaign of Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s vice president. In an interview with the New York Times, she said she had dedicated her life to “effectively” distributing Steve Jobs’ fortune. She also added that a massive accumulation of wealth is “dangerous for a society”.
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And particularly difficult to manage. MacKenzie Scott learned this the hard way. She did not want to create a large foundation or a website and prefers to donate to institutions, universities, NGOs, food banks … Which has the merit of being faster and more direct. But also attracts crooks. When she announced that she was giving billions last year, loads of people received emails from the so-called ex-Ms. Bezos promising them all and wonders. They were actually scams.
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